A highly curated, thoughtfully crafted packing list for the Camino Frances by a super Type-A, slightly high maintenance American woman.
I walked from October 12-November 16, 2016. I searched other packing lists on forums, blogs and web articles to come up with my ideal packing list, which in the end, was truly ideal. I used everything in my pack. I only shipped one item forward (fanny pack – what was I thinking??!!) Any items that I needed I was able to buy along the way.
There are three lists below. The first is gear, clothing, shoes, basically anything that had a weight because I was crazy about keeping my pack to 10% of my body weight. The second list is a general list of clothing and gear as well as all miscellaneous items I brought. The final bullet list is items I had on my packing list and didn’t take. I included some notes on whether I actually needed these items. I’ve provided the brands I chose and costs (and weight) when applicable. Basically I was super happy with everything I brought. Wouldn’t have changed a thing except maybe bring the items I ended up buying (I didn’t love running around Burgos shopping for shoes, surprisingly!)
|Backpack||Gregory Jade 38 with rain cover||$139||2 lbs. 7 oz.||Loved this pack because it was a toploader but also a ziparound. Nice size lid and front pouch for easy access during the day. It also does not lay against the back directly, there is a suspension system which provides ventilation between the back and the pack. I could have used a smaller pack but I am glad I brought this one and had extra room when I needed it. It was also nice not to feel like I was stuffing my pack each time I re packed.|
|Sleeping Bag||Marmot NanoWave||$89||1 lb. 13 oz.||This was a 45 degree rated bag and it was good for the time period I was there. If it was too hot I just slept on top of it. It came with a compression sack.|
|Sleeping Bag Liner||Cocoon Silk Mummy Liner||$50||4.7 oz.||I only needed this a few nights. I didn’t care for it because I found myself getting all twisted up in it throughout the night.|
|2x Long Sleeves||Patagonia Capilene Merino Lightweight Crew Neck Long Underwear Top||$49||3 oz.||This merino did not hold up well. It said washable but it shrunk when I washed-only. It also developed a hole in the sleeve. Luckily Patagonia refunded me.|
|Patagonia Capilene Lightweight Crew Neck Long Underwear Top||$33||3 oz.||I loved this shirt. Super comfy and quick drying. It was a good transitional weather shirt. Its was super lightweight.|
|Purchased a 3rd Long Sleeve on Camino||Icebreaker Everyday Long Sleeve Crew midweight base layer||Approx. $100||4.5 oz.||Bought in Astorga. I like this shirt, it was very soft and held up well. Initially I aimed to have all my clothes some sort of color (except my leggings and tank top) so I could easily recognize them on a laundry line. But frankly I missed having a basic black shirt so I bought this one in black. I had This was a nice shirt to have in the evening and for bed because it was comfy.|
|1x Short Sleeve||Smartwool Micro 150 Baselayer short sleeve shirt||$75||n/a||This shirt wasn’t my favorite mainly because I don’t like fitted shirts but it held up nicely but I didn’t feel it dried as fast as my Capilene shirt or my Adidas tank.|
|Purchased a 2n Short Sleeve on Camino||Zara T-shirt||$8||n/a||Needed a tee for evening/bed; bought in Burgos. This was the only cotton item I had and it was such a nice soft tee it was perfect for evening and sleep, which is all I wore it for.|
|1x Tank Top||Adidas tank||$20||n/a||This tank dried fast and good for hot days on the Meseta. When it was cold it was a good base layer under a long sleeve and fleece.|
|2x Hiking Pants||North Face Aphrodite drawstring pants||$70 each||8 oz.||Drawcord at leg opening for cinching which was necessary when the ground was wet or muddy. Probably could have cinched them up to my knees if too hot but these pants kept me cool on the Meseta and warm in the colder weather. Definitely not rainproof but were fine in the light rain.|
|Evening/bedtime pants||Prana Misty leggings||$75||n/a||I am so glad I brought these instead of merino long underwear. These were perfect to pull on after the shower and wear straight to bed. This pair had a nice texture/design so they were a little nicer than basic leggings.|
|Rain Jacket||Patagonia Torrentshell Jacket||Already owned||10.6 oz,||This jacket folded into its own pocket so it didn’t take up much room and was fairly lightweight.|
|Fleece Jacket||The North Face Arcata Full-Zip fleece jacket||$90||14.1 oz.||I liked these fleece because I did not want a pullover one or one that was too plush or thick. It hit at the top of the hip rather than the waist which worked nicely with the backpack hip belt.|
|2x Underwear||ExOfficio Sport Mesh Hipkini Briefs||$24 each||n/a||I kept reading these were the best and they were! Simply said, they stayed put. They dried really fast. I washed them in the shower if I wasn’t going to do laundry (which occurred more frequently toward the end…)|
|2 Sports Bras||Zella brand from Nordstrom||Already owned||n/a||I brought these because I already owned them and they are really comfy because the band ends on the abdomen rather than right under the bust. These were not as quick to dry but I am glad I took bra I knew I was already comfortable with.|
|1 Casual Bra||Gap Unlined Wireless Bra||$36||n/a||I bought this just before the Camino so I didn’t wear it much because it ended up not being a great fit for my cup size. I am glad to not have brought a wire bra just for evenings though – sports bra was fine. I’d probably bring an extra sports bra next time.|
|Beanie||Merino Beanie from REI||$19||n/a||I walked in Oct-Nov so I wore a beanie most days, especially in the morning.|
|Baseball Hat||One||Already owned||n/a||For me a baseball cap was more comfortable than a hiking hat. I never felt I need hat coverage for my neck but I imagine in summer one would.|
|Buff||UV Buff||$25||n/a||Buff is absolutely necessary, or at least in my opinion. I used this as a neck gaiter when colder, on my wrist when hot to wipe sweat and when I encounter massive fruit flies for two days I used this to cover my face (flies were going up nose, in eyes and ears, etc).|
|Gloves||North Face E-tip Gloves||$45||n/a||Necessary for Oct-Nov especially in the morning and in the colder mountain sections.|
|3x Socks||2x Smartwool Light Hiking Socks
1x Darn Tough Light Hiker Quarter Socks
|$15-20||n/a||I didn’t wear the Darn Tough ones as much, they were kind of my backup sock. That sock is slightly thinner than the Smartwool. The Smartwool held up well.|
|Towel||Packtowel||$19||2 oz.||I bought medium size and used a sarong to wrap around my body since this towel was not big enough. I used it to wrap up my hair though which was nice to get some excess water out since there’s no hair dryers.|
|Neck Wallet||PacSafe Coversafe X75 Neck Wallet||$25||2.1 oz.||I preferred the neck wallet because I wore it messenger style under my fleece. If I wasn’t wearing a fleece I just cinched it a little tighter so it was closer to my body. It almost looked like a little purse when I wore it crossbody.|
|Hiking Shoes||Salomon Ellipse GTX Hiking Shoes||$120||1 lb. 6.6 oz.
|I didn’t break these in too much before I went and that wasn’t a problem. These were rainproof unless it was torrential. They did wear out more than anyone else’s shoes that I saw. Perhaps it was my walking style but I ended up having to patch up these worn parts with medical tape so it wouldn’t rub my feet the wrong way.|
|Flip Flops||Havaianas||Already owned||n/a||Flip flops were needed for the showers. A lot of people don’t use them which made me glad I did. I brought a pair with brightly colored straps so they wouldn’t get lost or confused with anyone else’s.|
|Purchased shoes for evening||New Balance lightweight trainers||Approx. $75||Flip flops with socks wasn’t cutting it, needed closed toe shoes for after walking; bought in Burgos. Luckily I had extra space in my pack.|
Backpack rain cover
|Hiking poles I purchased in St. Jean Pied de Port at a shop across from the Pilgrim’s Office.|
|Clothing/ Shoes||Rain jacket
Baseball hat, Beanie, Gloves
1 pair leggings (evening/sleep)
2x hiking pants
1 technical tank top
1 short sleeve technical tee shirt
1 long sleeve technical tee
1 merino longsleeve shirt/base layer
2 sports bras
2 sets underwear
3 pair hiking socks
Sarong was great for after shower. I also used it as a pillow cover. It would also make for a privacy curtain but I didn’t use it like that.
Dr Bronners soap (liquid for face; bar for body)
Mario Badescu facial moisturizer gel
Lush shampoo bar
Body lotion bar
|I cut the Dr. Bronner soap bar into a couple little slices and replaced when needed.
With the gel moisturizer a little goes a long way and had a nice to clean feeling when I put on before bed.
Lush shampoo did not rinse out well and I would not use again.
I gave up on the body lotion bar and didn’t feel like I needed body lotion at all.
The sunscreen I used is very lightweight and the bottle is slim and perfect for travel.
|First Aid/Blister Care||Ibuprofen
First aid tape
Gel tubes toe caps
Needle and thread
Prescription medications in original containers
|I took Ibuprofen everyday, mostly in the evening but if I was feeling sore in the morning I took it. Ibuprofen comes in higher dosage in Spain so I bought it over the there.
First aid tape was crucial. I used it to tape down my blister bandages because Compeed ruins socks. I also used it to fix the wear on my shoes. This can be bought along the Camino at pharmacies but one roll lasted me to the end. I also bought gauze patches to pad my blisters.
I used the gel toe caps for the first few days on my big toes and baby toes because that’s where I expected blisters. They were great but wore out easily so I decided to save them. I ended up mostly using them to pad my blisters when Compeed bandage wasn’t enough. I popped most of my blisters with needle and thread otherwise I was miserable. I used my headlamp as my surgical light!
Someone told me before the Camino to put Vaseline on my feet to prevent blisters. I put it on the potential “hot spots” and it worked until the one day I didn’t use it…and that’s the day I got blisters…
I switched all my prescription medications to plastic baggies in SJPDP and labeled each bag. I then had mini pill bags labeled for each day of the week. Once a week I would refill the mini pill bags. This might sound complicated but it worked for me. Never needed the UTI Rx or Diflucan, thankfully.
Swiss Army knife
2 water bottles
2 knee braces
Laminated copy of passport
Ziplock baggies, assorted sizes
Big trash bag
Power chargers and Adapters
iPod Nano & Headphones
Headlamp, backup AAA batteries
Portable battery charger.
Travel toilet paper
Pen, mini notebook, mini Sudoku book
|I didn’t use my headlamp much but was glad I brought it because I did have a few mornings I started out before daylight.
I bought the Swiss Army knife in Astorga just in case. I did use it a few times to cut gauze for my blister care.
I kept my eyemask, earplug, Tylenol PM and some cough drops in the compression stuff sack that came with my sleeping bags. I was able to keep this sack in bed beside me in case I needed these items. I also had a little tiny micro flashlight the size of my pinky that was on a key ring that I kept in this sack. I only 10 brought Tylenol PM but bought more sleeping medication at a pharmacy. A good night’s sleep was crucial.
For water bottles I brought a Nalgene (with an adaptable smaller mouth pour cap) and a collapsible bottle that I didn’t like because I couldn’t pull it out of my side backpack pocket while walking. I ended up giving it to a friend. I ended up buying 16-20 oz bottles of water every few days and just kept refilling. These smaller bottles were easier to pull from my pack when walking. I do not like water bladders and think they look like a hassle. I also walked with someone who did not clean theirs and probably got sick because of that.
I kept the laminated passport copy at the bottom of my pack, just in case.
I only needed a big trash bag 1x for an alburgue but could have used it as a pack liner on a rain day if I had thought ahead. I used all sorts of ziplock bags, gallon bags for snacks, smaller ones I used for toilet paper.
I’m glad I brought the portable battery charger, it was lightweight and I used it more than a few times to recharge my phone or iPod during the day. I was also glad as a woman walking alone to have it just in case I got lost and needed power for my phone to call for help. I was glad to have my Nano so as not to drain my iPhone when I needed music which was all the time when walking alone. Turn on iPhone battery low power mode and turn off cellular and wi-fi while walking to save battery. I had cellular turned off all the time except a few times on the final day.
For laundry soap I used Sea to Summit concentrated which was in a super small bottle. One lasted the entire time. I loved the Scrubba but it’s not very practical or easy to use although you can genuinely see that it probably gets the dirt out of clothes better than handwashing. It was nice to have as a wet bag for clothes that didn’t dry overnight or for storing dirty clothes so I’d probably bring it again. Just keep in mind it needs to dry out too.
Kept sanitizer in the zip pocket on my hip strap. Most bathrooms at cafes/bars do not have soap. I brought 4 rolls of camping toilet paper and only used two. Most bathrooms have TP but best to check before you go or just take TP with you.
Journaled via Momento app on iPhone with daily pic uploads. Mini notebook was more for exchanging information or writing myself a reminder if I needed to get something next time I came across a shop or pharmacy.
I didn’t really need the spork much. Once to unsuccessfully cut cheese and another time with yogurt I bought at the grocery store.
|10L Compression sack for clothing
1x small waterproof dry sack to keep credencial and travel docs and phone when it rained.
2-3 small stuff sacks (1 for beanie, gloves, sunglasses; 1 for prescription medications and first aid but not blister stuff; 1 for extra misc stuff)
Mini stuff sacks (1 for electronics; 1 for blister care)
2x mesh sacks for toiletries
|The clothing compression sack was great and allowed me to stay organized and keep track/inventory of my clothes. Plus my clothes didn’t get tangled up with everything else in my pack like I saw others dealing with. I kept my socks in here too. I didn’t change them during the day but some people do.
Stuff sack with beanie and sunglasses and mini stuff sack for blister care went into top lid of pack for easy access throughout the day. My lid is also where I kept my snacks for easy access during the day.
My dry sack with credencial went into the mesh pocket in the center of my pack for quick access when stopping at café for stamp or arriving at alburgues. I used my dry sack when it was raining for my phone and battery charger and kept it inside my pack rather than the mesh pocket even if I had my rain cover on. One time when it was raining I just clipped the dry bag on my hip strap with my phone and it did not get wet.
One other item in my pack was my rock for Cruz de Ferro, a place to symbolically leave a life burden behind as you move forward on the Camino. My rock was very special. I heard a man speak about the Camino while I was at Canyon Ranch in AZ a few months before I went on my Camino. That talk inspired me to do the Camino, something I had heard about but didn’t think I’d ever have the time to do. He gave everyone in the room a rock to take to the Camino if any of us decided to go. I did go. Three months later.
These were items that may at one point have been on my packing list but I didn’t bring them. Most I don’t regret not bringing and I can’t think of anything else I wish I had brought.
- Camera – iPhone camera is fine. I couldn’t imagine dealing with another item and a separate camera is not necessary. I also downloaded my guidebook on the Kindle app in my iPhone. It was easy to keep my iPhone in the pocket in my hip belt and pull it out when I needed to check my guidebook.
- Cup/mug – I never needed this even though I saw on other packing lists when preparing.
- Down jacket – I was ok with just my fleece and rain jacket as a combo but if I walked any longer in Nov (I completed on 11/16) I would have probably wanted a light jacket like my Patagonia one that I thought about bringing but didn’t.
- Luggage lock/cable lock – my backpack wouldn’t have able to accommodate a lock and I never saw anyone use them.
- Emergency blanket – didn’t need, didn’t bring.
- Spare duct tape – didn’t bring and could have used it to repair my shoes but as mentioned I used medical tape instead which was fine.
- Liner socks – left the one pair I had at home and don’t know if these would have helped with blisters. I don’t think it’s beneficial to bring them because it’s another item (or two) to have to keep track of and I don’t think they are necessary.
- Long underwear bottoms – I would have not liked to have worn my hiking pants in the evening and I definitely wouldn’t have been comfortable in long underwear unless I was crawling into bed. I am so glad I brought leggings to wear straight from shower to bed. They were nice to walk around town in the afternoon or hanging out in the alburgue or bar in the evening.
- Tea bags – I love tea and towards the end was tired of Americanos. Spanish don’t seem to like to serve tea or have it on hand. Next time I’d bring a few tea bags.
- Rain gaiters – I didn’t bring these and they look like a hassle. They probably would have been nice on rainy days but I don’t think I would have needed them for gravel because I never had pebbles in my shoes. I only saw a few people wearing them. For rain I’d rather have rain pants, which I didn’t bring. Next time I would even just for the one torrential rainpour day I experienced.
- Anti-diahhreal – I didn’t bring and did need it just one time. Luckily I was with someone who had Immodium and it worked.
- Anti-itch cream – brought but didn’t need.
- Antihistamine – brought but didn’t need.
Ok, ok, the ONE thing I would maybe bring next time is a face net mask or whatever they are called. Why? On the Meseta I encountered massive amounts of fruit flies that went in my eyes, ears, nose, etc. I was miserable and could see swarms of them ahead of me. It was never-ending for a day. It would quite possibly be the one “just in case” item I would bring on another Camino. My first walking partner who left after Burgos got to hear this story from home (U.K.) via WhatsApp. And this is what he said, “I had two face nets and I was going to tell you to take them but I knew you’d refuse so I didn’t offer them up.” Moral of the story: Be the person that accepts help from others!
Here are my other lessons from the Camino:
- One step at a time.
- Always look forward.
- Love yourself.
- Open your heart.
- Don’t worry about what people think so much.
- Don’t be burdened with regret.
- Walk to clear your mind.
- Accept others kindness.
- Be fortunate for all those that love you.
- Have gratitude for all that you have.
- Live for the moment and look to the future with positivity.
Bonus: The stages I walked. I took a rest day in Burgos, Leon and Portomarin. Highly recommend Portomarin for a rest day. Confession: I took the bus from Mansilla to Leon. It was only 17km and both of the major guidebooks said to skip it since it was a mostly highway walking.
Saint Jean Pied de Port
Orisson 7.7 km
Espinal 24.7 km
Larrasoana 21.7 km
Pamplona 15.3 km
Puente la Reina 27.3 km
Estella 21.8 km
Los Arcos 23.4 km
Logrono 27.6 km
Najera 29.6 km
Santo Domingo 20.9 km
Berlorado 22.9 km
San Juan de Ortega 24.1 km
Burgos 26.5 km (rest day in Burgos)
Hontanas 31.4 km
Boadilla 28.5 km
Carrion 24.5 km
Terradillios 26.6 km
Calzadilla 26.4 km
Mansilla 23.6 km
Leon 17.9 km (rest day in Leon)
Hospital de Orbigo 36.7 km
Murias de Rechivaldo 21.6 km
Rabanal 16.1 km
El Acebo 17.1 km
Ponferrada 16.6 km
Villafranca del Bierzo 24.2 km
Herrerias 20.8 km
Triacastela 28.9 km
Sarria 18.7 km
Portomarin 23.1 km (rest day in Portomarin)
Palas de Rei 25.6 km
Arzua 29.8 km
Arca/O Pedrouzo 19.1 km
Santiago de Compostela 20.8 km (rest day before Finisterre)
Negreira 21.9 km
Finisterre 31.4 km
Lastly, booking.com came in handy for nights when I wanted a hostal (sparse, basic hotel room) or pensione (private room with shared bathroom). I was always able to find something the same day which was nice because I would know by lunchtime where I was likely to end my day so I would book then while I was on wi-fi. Getting a room was nice because I could wash my clothes and dry them on the radiators.
A remember, you walk west on the Camino so in the morning be sure to turn around and catch a glimpse of the sunrise.